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Intuition and the Artist – seminar transcription
Presented by ResCen

Thursday 8 May 2003

Venue: Voice Box

 
Intuition seminar image
Research Associates:
  Ghislaine Boddington
  Shobana Jeyasingh
  Richard Layzell
  Rosemary Lee
  Graeme Miller
  Errollyn Wallen
Chair:
  Christopher Bannerman
with Guest:
  Guy Claxton


This seminar transcript can be downloaded in full
as an Adobe Acrobat pdf file (file size: 444 KB)


Introduction by Chris Bannerman

I’m Chris Bannerman the head of ResCen and I’m delighted to be joined this evening by not only the ResCen team, but also by special guest Guy Claxton who has published and edited a number of works in this area. We thought particularly interesting the title, The Intuitive Practitioner: on the importance of not always knowing what one is doing. So we’re delighted that Guy is here to tell about the importance of not always knowing what one is doing. Joining us on the panel are the ResCen artists: Graeme Miller, Ghislaine Boddington, Shobana Jeyasingh, Rosemary Lee, Errollyn Wallen and Richard Layzell.

We’re going to start the proceedings by hearing first from Guy, mostly his general thoughts about the area, but also he’s had the opportunities to scrutinise some interviews that I conducted with the ResCen Research Associates on the subject of intuition. I’ll tell you a little more about that before we begin because it might be of interest and useful for you to understand the context of this evening. I’m then going to give each Research Associate five minutes to respond to what Guy says, then we’ll let the conversation between Guy and the Researcher Associates proceed, and then over to you and hope that conversation flows smoothly as well.

I should also say that although Guy has thought about and edited The importance of not always knowing what you’re doing, he does know he has to finish this by 8 o’clock as he has another engagement. So we will finish either at or before 8 o’clock. However, there will be refreshments so please stay on for a very important part of the evening which is to network and exchange your thoughts about the subject if you haven’t had a chance to express them already in the open session.

So, for some of the questions asked of the research associates in the interviews, we semi-structured each interview so each one had a shape of its own. The conversation flowed as seemed appropriate to the subject area, but some questions were common and the first question was about the role intuition played in their work. Then we went on to discuss “well what is intuition?”` What does each person consider it to be? Can it be developed or trained? Do you learn how to shut off a different part of your mind and listen more carefully to the voice of intuition? And how does it carry on through various stages of your career?

So the very last thing I need to say about this evening is many thanks to all the ResCen team for all they’ve done in putting this together. Again, you’re all here and thanks to you for making this journey. I should thank Carmen Adamou, the ResCen Research Administrator, Helen Ryan, the ResCen Finance Administrator, also Dominique Rivoal, who is recording this evening’s proceedings; so we can look for a web posting about them sometime in the future. And now I’m happy to pass on to Guy Claxton to tell us his thoughts on intuition in general and then move on to the Research Associates.

 

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Guy Claxton    
Chris and Guy Thank you very much Chris. I don’t work in the arts. I work in education at the University of Bristol, mainly working with teachers; my background, if anything, is in psychology and in science, a bit in the creativity in science and a bit in the creativity of business. I’ve a graduate student at the moment who is looking at the extent to which it is possible to make better use of intuition in a business context. So I feel a little bit like a fish out of water here tonight. Although, it’s interesting that there’s some weird thing going on between me and dance, I don’t know what it is. This is the third occasion out of the blue, Gill Clarke was the second, and Loni Jenkin Jones – another dancer – was the first. Somehow it has come my way and has beckoned me to become interested in the performing arts. So I was delighted when Chris gave me the third beckon to come and learn from, learn with people who are involved with the performing arts.

I was just having a chat with Ghislaine about the way in which different mediums and domains engage intuition in different ways and their cycles and dynamics of creativity are different. I’ll come back to that in a bit. There’s something paradoxical that I want to get out of the way. I’m talking about intuition. It’s like sitting down for an hour analysing a joke. Interestingly, intuition is precisely interesting because it’s not explicit. It’s not verbal. It has a mystery. It is felt. It manifests in a feeling, in an impulse, in an aesthetic attraction, in all varieties of ways. In fact we use the word intuition I think, as a kind of proving way of talking about all the different ways of knowing, learning and developing which is all defined negatively; that is, they’re all not conscious, not deliberate, not explicit, not articulate, not the kinds of things that are so celebrated by schools for example. So there is something a bit odd about trying to unpack intuition in terms of that much more conventional – what I call in one of the books I’ve written – “hare-brain mode”, which is explicit. Nevertheless, that’s kind of what we’re here to do and we’ll see whether that turns out to be a completely futile enterprise or not as we go along. There may be refunds on the door if it doesn’t.

I should start by saying it’s been fascinating and infuriating reading the transcripts of their interviews with Chris. Fascinating because it’s taken me into a different world, a world that I know almost nothing about. Infuriating because I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to read literal transcripts, but mostly you can’t understand them. They’re full of a kind of verbal and kind of backwardness, forwardness, ums, links and the meaning, if it emerges rather intuitively. And as we know, intuition can be wildly wrong, that’s one of the most interesting things about intuition, it’s not always right. So whether I’ve got you right or not, we will see.

I’m going to spiral off from these interviews. The other thing to say is that one or two of the peoples’ interviews that I read voiced quite a recurrent concern about whether if you unpick it too much the magic will go away: whether there’s something not just absurd but also counterproductive in trying to talk about intuition, whether it will undo it. Comics, comedians, artists of all kinds often express that kind of caution, often express “will I lose that magical edge?” So it may be that these well respected artists might fall flat on their faces this evening and might never do it again as a result of having thought too much this evening about the role of intuition in their work. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

There was a famous physicist called Richard Feynman who once said “it does no damage to the mystery to understand a little about it,” and that’s my position. I think the mystery is bigger enough and robust enough to withstand our puny efforts to unpack it a little bit. I think the risk is minimal.

But let me just try and pick out a few themes that interested me from the transcripts of the interviews that I read and see if they strike any chords with my colleagues up here and with you. One of the things that struck me, and has with the other work I’ve been doing about intuition, is that it is multiple. You can’t boil it down to a single thing. There is something about intuition which is to do with the appearance of something in your mind, in your behavior, in your guts, in your feeling which feels as if it has value or rightness but you don’t quite know at the time. That’s as close as I can get in trying to put my finger on it. But given that it’s very broad and variable as I’ve said, the way it shows itself is very variable. Sometimes it shows up in your breathing. Sometimes it shows up in an extraordinary movement that comes out of you in a moment that you haven’t planned. Sometimes it shows up in an image or a dream. Sometimes it shows up in one of the artists here. (Sorry, I will not attribute accurately the things I have read from you so if you’ll each privately know who I’m talking about and confess if you want to). For example, a choreographer who gets frustrated, not being able to break through, then having a snooze and getting up and dancing out of that sleepy space and finding something that’s new or novel. Was that Rosie’s?

We all know that there are occasions when our intuition seems to function well. I do quite a lot of work on intuition at the moment and I’ve asked dozens of audiences this simple question, “when do you get your best ideas?” Not necessarily artistic ideas but when to go on holiday. And you don’t get it when you’re on your best behavior do you? You don’t get it when you’re being most intense or purposeful. People mostly say they get it when they’re having a bath or a shower, when they’re falling asleep, as they’re waking up, when they’re on the loo, walking the dog, doing the ironing, the weeding, washing up. It’s something often about having something simple going on that preoccupies you physically. Walking and intuition are good friends. Or there’s swimming; people doing their lengths in the morning; often those ideas bubble up.

Anyway, one of the ways in which intuition seems to bubble up is in the initiation of a project, when you’re kind of getting the seed of something, whether it’s a dance or a piece of music or sculpture or an artwork of some kind. One of the artists wrote about having a white sheet day which is like going into that domain of exploration with as little precognition, as little thought as possible as it were, just fishing in an unprepared way for what might serendipitously come up. Again it’s not at the stage of working something out, it’s at the stage of pure play, pure exploration and then out of that might come the seed or the germ of something.

But I was struck by the importance of these seeds. Often a dance or an artwork of some kind will begin to spin like the image of a candy floss machine, begin to spin around like that sugar, there’s a fairly crystallised something that you put in the middle and then part of the work of creativity is to spin it into something that has a mysterious or newness quality; I’m getting carried away; and being able to cherish that space of “I don’t know, I don’t know what I’m doing”.

A lot of my work is with teachers as I say and sometimes I witness what seems to be a small tragedy of a teacher standing over a four year old demanding that they say what they’re trying to do. As if it was always good to have planned, always good to know, and of course those seeds often appear out of nothing. Those things act as the crystal to gel. I was having a conversation with a four year old, my great nephew Angus who lives in Australia. He was out in his back garden and he was making something, and I fell into this trap of assuming that he must have some plan. So I said “what are you making?” He said, “I don’t know.” I said “Is it a car?” He said, “I don’t know.” I said “Perhaps it’s a cave?” He said, (his politeness was beginning to break down at this point) “I DON’T KNOW!” And I was very slow. It took me a long time to catch on that the whole point of what he was doing was that he didn’t know. It wasn’t that he was looking for that, that it was some scheme. His enjoyment, his delight was in discovering the potential of the material he was playing with and out of that could have come a seed of something which was more focused. I was thinking about this coming up in the train.

I’m not sure if anyone is old enough to remember some of the music that was around during my university days. Some songs written by Clive James and Pete Aitkin. There was one sentimental song it's always in my mind. “I’ve seen a girl hold back her hair to light a cigarette. It’s the things like that a man like me can’t easily forget.” And that’s a seed. It’s a seed of something and you don’t know what it is. But getting those seeds is something which is complex and is felt, knowness and you don’t know how to unpack it yet, you don’t know what it’s going to be. It seems to be one of those places where intuition functions.

I was going to read you a poem at this point, but I was telling Chris, I forgot to bring it with me. It’s by an American poet called Anne Sullivan and is about the importance of those details to poets. It’s a poem called When I die and it’s about the importance of how she wants the people around her when she dies to pay attention to what’s happening. What was the sound of silence as I issued my last breath? Were there insects in the room? Were there shadows on the walls? And the last two or three lines are “note down everything, take care, be quick, capture it all, my friends are poets, they need details”. Even in the midst of something tragic, that willingness to find something, the tiny poignant thing seems to be important.

Secondly when you’re evolving, one of the things I was struck by that process of, one of the things that distinguished the form of creativity that you’re working with Rosie, from some of the others is that often the solution of the problem evolves. If you’re a scientist, you may have an idea of where you’re heading, one of you used a nice image of simultaneously inventing a crossword puzzle and filling in the clues. You don’t know what the crossword puzzle is going to be like. And that process, which is very different from the archetypal image of creativity – you have a problem and you think about it for a bit and then you incubate and then something bubbles up into your head and then you test to see whether it works as a solution or not – is one of the things, classic models of creativity: preparation, incubation, illumination and verification. It works okay for science, works okay if you’re a mathematician, works okay if you’re spending seven years of your life trying to figure out the proof of Fermat’s last theorem, but not if you’re developing dance. There is no pre-determined problem. You, as it where, are co-evolving what it is you’re trying to say, what it is you can’t quite put your finger on and the form through which you are trying to resolve that at the same time. I was interested by that process of construction, the process of again not knowing where you’re going, not making up your mind as you’re proceeding.

There’s a famous study about visual artists which goes back to the 70s, conducted by a man called Micheichitz Mechoewen. He was looking at the working methods of art students. Whilst they were preparing and painting still life, they were evaluating their work as judged by critics, tutors and so on and looking to see what the correlation was between their working habits and the quality or originality of their final product. There were a lot of interesting things that fell out of that. One was that the quality of the paintings was predicted by how innovatively and for how long they played with the potential objects before they got down to work. They explored the texture and possibilities of the objects that were available to them. But the thing that I wanted to point out the most was that the best pictures were produced by the artists like my great nephew Angus, who didn’t know what they were trying to do for the longest. They refused to foreclose on where they were headed for quite a long time during the process of the development of a product. And it seemed to be that the development of a dance or a piece of music might well be like that. Then there’s the process of kind of generating or developing the work, working it up or elaborating it whilst trying to keep that fresh and newness quality of that seed, not unpacking it, but working it out, developing it, spinning themes around it like the candy floss. Again, I’d be interested to hear how you respond to this.

It seems to me that different media or different domains make available different time scales for creativity. Where intuition comes in often, when you think of intuition, is where we’re operating with our medium whatever it is, outside the normal timescale of thought, though imposes a particular timescale. We think at the speed I’m talking. It’s constrained by the dynamic properties of language. And also there are certain kinds of speeds or paces which are made available by different media. If you’re a sculptor your process of development may proceed at a pace which takes you out of thought because it’s slower. It’s a slower more laborious pace. If you’re a dancer or a comedian, you might throw yourself into an improvisation which can throw up something new because it’s faster than thought. You can’t think doing it faster. It may not all be gold, a lot of it may be dross but out of that may come more seeds which you can spin around into your developing work.

I was quite interested by that idea that one or two of you were writing about that. You get that process development by deliberately putting yourself into a state of improvisation which is too fast to be deliberate. You push yourself out of deliberation by going too fast. And also it’s interesting that you also take yourself out of that more rational medium of going too slow. By putting yourself into that slow sleepy state, that revel state where things are happening. If…I...start…speaking…in a rhythm that’s very different, the normal process of comprehension doesn’t apply anymore. One starts to hear the sound of the voice. One starts to hear the silence, different words. Different kinds of responses become available to you.

I like the idea of almost deliberately knowing how to work with – grandly called – altered states of consciousness. That doesn’t necessarily mean drugs. It may mean exploring what happens in a sleepy state or heightened state, or deliberately doing your warm-up as a dancer in conjunction with someone else rather than doing it on your own. I was reminded of something rather nice that the poet Laureate Andrew Motion said in an interview that I read a little while ago, that often when he sits down to write a poem, he takes a Beechums powder in order to try and induce and trick his body to think that he has a cold. Because in that state of having a cold there’s a kind of muzziness that comes over his mind which can be more conducive to the process of poetic construction. I don’t know if it works or not. But it’s quite interesting the tricks and devices that creative artists devise for themselves. The poet Schiller would only write on a desk which was filled with rotting apples because that smell was somehow rather evocative. I think we all develop those kinds of superstitious forms of behavior to some extent.

I was very interested by the way in which intuition dances with the more deliberate forms of thinking. It’s not that it’s in opposition. It’s not that intuition is good, logic bad. It’s somehow that there’s a delicate dance between different rhythms going on. Sometimes you need the craft. Sometimes you need to be quite deliberate. It may have been Rosie, who was writing about the importance of actually being quite deliberate in problem solving. “I like this bit. How am I going to fit this in? How is this going to work with the music?” And it becomes quite orderly like chess or doing a crossword puzzle and not at all like the ‘let it all hang out’ form of intuition. I’m very interested in that interplay. American poet Amy Lowell said that, “The unconscious is indispensable in creative work. But it is an unreliable ally and sometimes it will go on strike for no apparent reason and then one needs the craft of the artist or of the poet in order to putty up the holes that unconscious doesn’t let.” I’m interested in that balance. Perhaps you have more to say about that.

Intuition functions in the process of selection. You may throw up a whole load of interesting ideas but several of you were talking about the importance of learning to trust that voice that says “That one! That’s it!” And not knowing how or why. That voice which just seizes on something. Interestingly the research on scientists shows the same thing. Scientists, although you think they’re icons of rationality, a lot of them will say they’ll do an experiment, they do it two or three dozen times and eventually on the 33rd time they have the feeling that that’s a pretty good result. And they don’t know why. It’s not rational but they have a nose for those things and not surprisingly, scientists have learnt to trust that nose, that even in the laboratory, even in that very different kind of world, that ability to use intuition as an evaluative tool is important. Maybe you need to unpack it, maybe you need to know, to understand later what it was that created that evaluation.

One of my favorite stories about intuition and about the relationship between intuition and the supernatural if you like is how often people talk about intuition in their common language. “I was just doing nothing at all and it was an ordinary day at home and suddenly I found myself thinking about Aunty Joan and I had this strange feeling, then god damn it, the phone goes and it’s Uncle Fred on the phone telling me that Aunty Joan’s had a nasty fall.” Things that science can’t explain: intuition. I’m interested in those, but I’m also interested in the way that sometimes we can backtrack to see where the intuition came from and I’ll finish with this favorite story of mine.

Back in the days when I was a boy there was a famous racing driver called Juan Fangio. He was driving in the 1960 Monaco Grand Prix. He was driving towards a blind corner, when inexplicably he braked much more sharply than he would normally have done. And as he rounded the corner he discovered that there’d been a pile up of cars around the corner and because he had braked more sharply than would have been normally required for that corner, he was able to avoid going into the pile up and went on to win the race. This thing, how could he have known? He had no way of knowing what was around the corner. One morning three months later he woke up and realised what had happened. As he was driving towards the corner, there was a bank of spectators in front of him – this thing was a mystery to him, a bank of spectators in front of him. Being the world champion he would have unconsciously have expected the faces of these spectators, this blurry bank pointing towards him, but in fact they were pointing sideways as they were looking at the pile up. And it was unconsciously that perception which had somehow or other impinged on him too fast for thought, too fast, too quickly for consciousness that had enabled him to respond. And I’m very interested in – not necessarily everywhere but – the possibilities where there may be that kind of interesting unconscious, that ability to unpick where intuition comes from, not in terms of something intrinsically supernatural but in terms of subliminal perception or ways in which we’ve guarded experiences and make use of them in ways that bypass our consciousness.

That’s more than enough from me.

 

 
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Chris Bannerman    
Thank you, Guy. I’ll invite responses from each of the Research Associates. Five minutes? Yes.

 

 
 
Responses from    
Graeme Miller    
Graeme responding There’s lots in there and I’m just trying to boil up what’s in my head. You kept using lots of words to do with feeling, guts. And it kept reminding me that all those things are to do with physical reaction, kinesthetic responses and tend not to use intuition, although you might say it was like a light bulb, a blinding light. But often you would say it’s about gut feeling. And just one of the things that reminded me about this was walking intuition.

I use the Network South East, I go on gratuitous journeys to go to seaside towns in the South of England, because I have to really go on the journey. But there’s a question or way of looking at intuition in time and often in my case, part of the business in tricking yourself out of your own inertia relates to the whole business about making work. You know, in what context are you making work? And the context of being someone who is a professional artist or a reasonably full-time artist is full of question marks, and the question marks relate to other things other angles to do with “Is this the one?”, “Is this going to be appreciated?”, “Why am I doing this?”

A friend of mine who’s a poet says he writes, he watches his hand writing. He doesn’t like to look at this bit where it joins the shoulder, because it’s a poet’s hand that’s writing. So he just watches what the poet’s hand is doing. There’s a kind of ritual journey taken that goes in.

For me one of the things I do – I was thinking about the candy floss image and I can see how it would seed – that could work is the idea where you’d have something that would make you start and you’d go through a series of doors that would come up in pairs or threes and you’d have to choose which one, and eventually by continuing that process you’d see something grow. I often set myself the kind of task that’s to do with immediately getting a smell of the end of it. Getting a sense of what the final thing is and then set a whole lot of things in motion that will take me to that end. So I reach a destination. For me, there’s maybe something about a series of decisions in time that have feelings of directions of which way to go, some key is, something in our biology about orientation, about finding our way, about being in some kind of landscape to make a series of decisions to negotiate and to reach some sort of journey’s end.

And there’s something when I do trick myself. I find lots of techniques that are about tricking myself. It’s either tricking myself out of a stale mode or allowing this thing; the poet’s arm, the severed arm, all sorts of metaphors like that exist that are about disassociation; remove waste material and things will write themselves. But within that is what I think is a profound world view – do you believe that the universe will only make connections if you work totally in control of it, if you’re in this god like position? Or are there things within the creative process that are part of nature if you like, that is inherently creative in which you’re engaged in a kind of husbandry. All those things relate to it. If you believe you work in a connected universe then you continue to find its own connections. Whether that’s true or not, I find that almost taking on that drama, that even the idea that the world might be like that, it sort of works, whether it is like that or not.

This idea of what you’re doing isn’t actually concocting something. It’s discovering something or allowing a kind of ecology to go on, particularly when you start to work with other people, intuition, that whole business of setting up environment circumstances often to do with limitations at the time. Structure, we need a wall to bounce off in order to make things happen and that’s again a sort of zoo for connection. I think one of the key elements, to go slightly back to this business about setting some kind of pre-sector, that what I’m looking for is something that will fit in this thing, that I’m smelling and then every time you go to this jumble sale you’re looking, you see nothing but yellow coats, because you’ve set up the idea, that’s what you will recognise. And that kind of priming of your own brain seems like a key part of getting your intuition working and it’s not just about blindly stumbling, but at some point you’ve set some sort of directive as to what your intuition is for and where it’s going.

 

 
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Responses from    
Ghislaine Boddington    
Ghislaine responding There is loads to respond to but there are a few bits, I think I’m really interested in the bit that you mentioned at the end, about perception and how we are still in the world, particularly in the Western world, where we actually only just started talking about the fact that we actually don’t just have five senses but we have many other ways to sense things; and work with digital technology is something that is very much within my realm and working with artists who many of their works are trying to shift perception, change perceptions and make people look at things in different ways: not in a controlled way either, actually allowing a flow to happen of different perceptions, shifting the familiar, see what then happens in peoples’ heads, the public, other artists etcetera.

And you used ‘subliminal’ and I wonder how long it is before we actually start to use that. We know so much more about that subliminal that we start to know in ourselves much more than why we didn’t turn that corner. We put the brake on and we actually to have the speed to take that into consciousness: new consciousnesses I guess is the phrase. And in that context I really agree with trying to understand it all at the time it’s happening and really trying to because of the speed at which we work at. And that links a lot into how dance works, how dancers work. There’s always that concept when you’re performing and you’ve got something that you really had to learn and the more you think about it on stage the less likely you’re going to do it right. So that whole thing about just letting it flow, not thinking, because you can’t think about the actual stuff, you’ve got to do it, and the speed and pace side is very interesting.

Going back to an aside, working with digital technology and dancers, a lot of the work is getting people to understand the different speeds that those processes happen at so you have a situation where the dancers are just hanging out on stage for ages because they’re just mapping something into a motion capture program, very boring for the dance side. The digital side might take much longer than anyone could ever believe. Everyone expects digital to be so fast, then the dancers have their time and you’re in this constant wave between the technology and the dance and the dancers are doing work much, much faster...I just can’t believe it that dancers are so fast; it’s an improvisation and it’s come through at speed.

So in my work as it’s mainly totally with groups and I’m never on my own, it’s always within a group situation of making other people very much group work, group process. But with shinkansen, we work phrases for quite a long time and I think maybe only in the last five years we realise that they link into this area of discussion. Many people in this room for sure, are familiar working with concepts around structured improvisation for example where you actually set a structure so you all have a knowing of certain points along the way but actually the bits in between are free flowing, fluid, so you have space to happen between bits. We use a phrase in the office a lot in production called ‘planned informality’, where we actually say what we’re doing is creating an event or a workshop or a three days talking session or a mixture of both, but we want to make a plan really, we want to make a basket – a really clear structure that everyone is coming to that thing, and kind of knows in advance what is kind of going on in time through the day and where we’re going to get to. But actually we leave a lot in the middle. We’re creating a basket which keeps everybody safe and then let it go fluid and let it go all gooey in there. I think the safeness allows the fluidity to happen. We use that in our club work, in our workshop and it leaves a trust. I think the word trust is really important. We actually get a flow – a trust between people, allow a free flow to happen through structure situation.

The word ‘spin’ that you said is something that I use a lot particularly when I’m mentoring younger artists too, in group work too; “let’s just spin it. Let’s just spin it for a bit, let it drop in that we’re fretting on this. Let’s leave it for a few days, leave it, it’s going to drop in. If we spin it something will come through.” And I’ve really learnt to spin in myself to stop over thinking about things and actually not go over and over things. To actually let it go, stop thinking about it. Let it flow and within 24 hours, 48 hours, suddenly you’re on the tube and you’re going of course! That’s how to do it! That solves that problem. Just before you go to sleep, just what you’ve said. When you stop thinking about it for a while is when the click happens. I think that means that you shouldn’t fix and I hate fixing and Debbie my partner sits in the back, she knows that I hate fixing so ultimately, you have to fix it. But by fixing you limit so much the potential of what comes through. I like to leave it fluid right up to the last point and I’ve learned to trust that a lot more.

I don’t think we’re encouraged to trust it. That’s the last thing I want to say. I think the systems out there – the bureaucracy, not just in the arts, in general – are constantly making you feel guilty for not fixing it down and absolutely determining what you’re doing years and years ahead. I’ve had to really learn to not feel like I’m rubbish because I don’t want to set out my next three years or my next ten pieces or whatever, or the next three days to a final showing. Maybe we all need to be allowed to do this more.

 

 
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Responses from    
Shobana Jeyasingh    
Shobana responding I haven’t thought about intuition very much I have to say until quite recently. And last year I was part of the ResCen ‘person to analyse’, actually having two people observe me for the entire length of a piece which was probably one of the most painful things that has ever happened to me, because from day one there were two researchers with cameras and notebooks observing everything I did from that moment on and actually I remember from one of the conversations I had with the researchers that I began to understand my own kind of attitude toward intuition. I think I was the one that said it’s a bit like making a crossword puzzle. And actually that’s not a very intuitive thing to say, because when you think about a crossword puzzle it seems to indicate an activity which is not intuitive. It’s about knowledge and craft and finding clues. I guess I really came from a background which was more weighted toward craft. One thing is I came from a classical dance background which was all about craftsmanship and less about real feeling. More about learning and imitating things that were put in front of you and the way you were valued was how you suppressed your instinct and displayed the beauties I guess.

Secondly, I didn’t really come to dance from a dance background. I came from a literature background. I’d just spent four years at university and the atmosphere where craftsmanship was very highly praised, where I think there was a kind of terrible fear that was put into any kind of creativity because one was living in an atmosphere of incredible critical evaluation. We looked at the best books that were ever written, so you actually weren’t encouraged to think “well I could actually go back and create something.”

I also came from growing up in not a very social environment. I grew up in east Malaysia so this whole area of going into a studio and being sociable and meeting people, engaging them was quite frightening. The beginning of my choreographic period was trying to stop feeling frightened. And the best way to do it was to prepare myself very carefully. So I had lots of notes and diagrams and a hundred and one things to do, just incase there was silence.

But the last piece that I did was quite interesting because as the days progressed – I had four weeks to make a piece and show it at Greenwich. It was quite a complicated piece which involved a live web cast from Bangalore, two dancers, this incredible hall with balconies and lifts and two film makers, and two singers and a composer: complicated. I could see that the researchers were looking very embarrassed and sort of frightened for me, avoiding my eye, because what they could see was two dancers, to them nothing seemed to be moving. Actually, it wasn’t. People would come and we’d have sharing. Chris would drop in and deal with things and at the end I think they were wondering what was going to happen. It was four days of web cast, of incredible talent. So there we were at Greenwich at the weekend and I had to meet everybody and actually get the show on the road. About two days prior to the premiere, suddenly I noticed that the researchers were smiling. Later on when we talked about it, I think they didn’t really know that there was going to be a piece, because what they saw was really just things, a particular section which was two dancers doing a sequence completely flat and we did this for four weeks over and over again and nothing was really moving. And I realise I go through this every time I create something, I get really depressed because nothing is moving. But somehow I’ve learnt that what I’m doing without even thinking is that there’s some point where in the back of my mind that hopefully that kind of reasonably educated intuition comes into play and at the end, as usual, hopelessly late and full of stress, out comes the piece. Because suddenly I know what I want to do with those two people; they’ve been dancing flatly for four weeks, but actually if I move this here and that there and change this, ask them to pause here and change the music, actually I’ve got a duet.

Analysing this whole episode with the researchers, I realise that that’s what I was doing: completely unplanned. I hadn’t realised what I was doing. I think what I’ve learnt to do is hang in there despite the fears and just kind of trust that the answer will turn up.

Often people will ask me, so where do you get your ideas? And you were talking about that initial inspiration. Actually I never have any ideas at the beginning, I’m not at all inspired by anything at the beginning. That’s a shock to people who read my applications to the Arts Council. I’m really about setting up a context, whether it’s about the poet laureate, it’s about asking for money for the pack of, it’s actually saying “give me the money so I can get that packet of”. The inspiration is always at the very last minute. For me it’s about deciding. It’s having set up all the problems, having set up all the possibilities.

 

 
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Responses from    
Rosemary Lee    
Rosemary responding I thought I’d start by talking about how I make a fertile ground for intuition. So how do I set the state up to be able to be intuitive? I was going to try to see where intuition played a part in the process, what part of it and curiously it’s the opposite to Shobhana. It is right at the beginning and it’s at the end when I feel I can‘t get the intuition. Quite interesting isn’t it? So I feel that intuition is about knowing, about the wider view of the word knowledge. It just struck me that the other way to know someone is to sexually know someone. I thought, can I talk about this? I’m supposed to be talking about intuition there.

Maybe to know something is about intimately knowing something and the more I can know about the situation I’ve set up, the more I can know about the dancers, the more intimately I can watch them, sense my reaction, listen to my reaction, sharpen my perception if you like. Somehow that links to the other way of knowing human beings. I think that maybe we’ve sort of got lodged on knowledge, meaning, knowing facts, and it doesn’t mean that. So I think what I’m trying to do in order to be more intuitive in every process for me is to sort of get the ground fertile, a bit like that husbandry business, a bit like gardening. I’ve got to kind of put the manure in a bit.

For me, now that usually means a horrible battle between shall I write in my notebook or shall I leave that page blank? It’s always a dilemma about that and I’m always trying to juggle that for the context of what I’m going to go into. Will it be more conducive to intuition to write something down first to prepare? Or will it be more conducive to have nothing? I usually go half way and sort of sneak a few notes and close it and leave it in the bag. I’ve never been quite brave enough to leave my book behind. I tell other people to do that, but I haven’t done it myself. So I always have my notebook close by. It’s sort of like my Mum and her handbag. So what I’m seriously trying to do is leave it behind so that I can not let that be a barrier for new ideas and possibilities, I have got to try to have an empty sheet. I’ve got to have an empty space, a large empty space. I’ve got to change time in my thoughts, so I really related to that. I’ve got to try to put all self-doubt away. It’s there, but I try to leave that in the bag as well. So there are these sorts of battles about trying to clear a space and try to pull anything back that is coming in that’s stopping me feeling at something. So I guess what I’m trying to do is set a sort of space. It does feel very much about space for me; I set up a space that allows me to close down certain things so that my senses are sharper and I can know the dancers better. Usually it’s got to do with knowing the dancers better.

I do relate to the sense of being in limbo, mainly that space and time thing of being on a train is something about being in limbo, is not entirely purposeful. You are going to end up somewhere, but that little catch in between if your mobile isn’t there. You’ve sort of got to find that place where you’re in limbo and I think things come then.

The other place that’s creative for me is a boring dance performance, unless I get too angry. And if I get too angry, it’s because I haven’t had any good ideas. Then I get angry because I can’t shut my eyes. Sometimes that’s quite a good place to think of my own work. That sounds dreadful!

Where intuition is of value for me in the process, it would be definitely at the beginning. It’s about finding the seed and when I find the seed, the seed is the starting point and the end point. It’s the same thing. So when I get the seed, the seed is, “that’s what the piece is going to be!” That’s the ‘eureka’ moment, and that’s the horrible process of trying to get to what that seed will grow into. I feel that if I don’t water the seed enough or in the right way it will mutate – the end problems. Somehow I’ve got to find my way to care for this thing and when I do feel like I’ve got the seed, or several seeds, the next eureka moment is the connection between the different seeds, different flowers. If I’ve got two seeds that seem very different, I almost feel I’m working to find where the network activity is, and it’s connecting those ideas that makes me feel I’m getting the whole piece together. So it’s not just the individual seeds, it’s the connections between them.

But then, there’s the bit where I do the structuring which is what Guy was mentioning about where I’m just doing this and just doing that. I hate that bit. I try and wait until I put it in the middle, but I hate it because I’m not working intuitively there. I’m almost doing a jigsaw puzzle and I feel it’s a weakness in my practice and it’s something I keep trying to look at and I’m always feeling guilty because for the dancers it’s a horrible place. I say “You know that improv. you did at the beginning? We’ll do that little bit there or we’ll put that duet there – don’t worry about doing it properly, just mark through that and then we’ll put that there.” So I feel like I’m not giving them a chance to fully embody the work until it’s made, and then we go back into embodying it again. For me it’s a struggle of how can I be intuitive in that structured place. It feels that that’s always my horrible bit, of the four weeks.

The part where I feel I can’t use intuition is evaluating the piece. I can’t use intuition while I’m sitting in an audience because there’s too many fears and worries that I haven’t got the strength of character to put behind me yet. Maybe when I’m 80 I’ll be able to do it. One other thing, what the moment feels like this ‘eureka’? I don’t know if that’s a moment of intuition or not, but that feeling of when you grab something I could feel it very much, after we’d had our snooze under the anoraks we’d get up and there’d be five minutes left and then everything would sort of speed up. The whole room would feel like a vortex and then we’d be done but in that vortex, in that speeding up, I could hear his mind getting faster and kind of sucking in the moment and certainly when I see something I think that’s it, everything speeds up. “Yeah, that’s it and that and that and that” and then it slows down again and it feels like you’re sort of drawn into some sort of tornado and you have no control and you’re waiting for that sort of ‘scoopy’ feeling to happen, like catching a fish.

 

 
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Responses from    
Errollyn Wallen    
Errollyn responding I think intuition has a ‘knowness’: knowing when something is right or wrong. Knowing when a piece of work is finished, when it needs revising and more and more for me intuition is very useful in knowing what’s in the joints. In a piece of work if I’m looking at something that’s not visual, a film or something, I’m fascinated by the joins, how things move from one place to another. Because I think that ideas are, everybody has ideas, and in music you can start with any idea, but how do you continue?

In music and dance you’re working in time and my job is to make sometimes five minutes sound like 50 minutes. To make two minutes, it could be that I’m trying to make an hour seem like a second. You see? So, I’m always manipulating time. I’m always juggling backwards and forwards; so the craft will take you so far but it won’t give you the shape of a piece and it won’t give you the experience of a piece. So I’m quite surprised about how many of my pieces start actually from almost like a visual snapshot.

I see that sometimes, I’m seeing a concert hall or players whom I’ve never met. There’s one moment where I made a piece, a percussion. We didn’t know who the orchestra was, who the soloist was, where it’d be put on. It was quite a few years ago, and I was nervous, extremely nervous and I was working and one day I suddenly saw the Barbican and I suddenly saw the audience clapping and I was very happy. And it turned out it was going to be held at the Barbican. And then the day, it was actually that big. Once I see people sense, funny things, even the details of the music, while I’m writing a piece of music, I’m considering those things as well. So always before I start I’ll ask what’s in the program so I can get a sense of something. I like to see the situation in which the music is going to be played.

I’ve been asking myself where intuition comes from because actually we have this thing from childhood. The very first thing is art practice. So as a child, I didn’t actually think, well, writing music will make me autonomous, give me particular physical experience. I thought I just liked the sights and sounds of music and we are instinctive as children brought up with particular experiences. So we find our particular art form in that way. I believe that a fully functioning art form and intuition should actually increase with age and experience, that it should often alongside the learning the craft or skill so that it forms our judgement at every jump or decision making.

And actually I think intuition operates in the audience view in the same way, and as artists we depend on that. We depend on an intuitive audience. We’re allowed to almost examine, you’re thinking that maybe 5000 people will get that, you depend on that understanding side. It’s the mental leap that takes us out of ourselves, that’s what I find. It’s that. Because in an intuitive moment you’re not yourself, you’re not interested in yourself, you’re interested in the idea and go toward the execution of it. But also it takes us beyond our own subconscious and it allows us holistic principles, collective unconscious. The best description of it is Phillip Pullman’s Dark Materials where so much of it is about… He writes about this ‘alethiometer’ which is…
(TAPE CUTS OUT)

How can you hear notes in the air? I said “well that’s where they come, that’s where we collect them”. I realise that all my music is from nothing and I think that’s the best place to start, because you can be sure. Whereas sometimes when I’m working with younger composers they’re very alive to the principles and structures they’ve set up but they forget to look at the piece. And they say “well I had to get through those notes there and make this, but actually it doesn’t work as a piece of music”. That’s why I’m so interested in these joins, because it’s in the joins where you sense an artist who is alive.

One thing I always encourage students is to be an expert in everything – to know where everything matters in that piece. The more you become an expert in your material, the more your intuition will be able to function fully.

 

 
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Responses from    
Richard Layzell    
It’s very hard for me to do this without wanting to see everybody and be aware of this time in this room. Is it a bit hot? Yes. We could open the windows. But it might get a bit noisy.

Why is it that I envy what women can wear on their feet? Why don’t I feel comfortable wearing lipstick and transforming myself as youthful as I am? The poetry library is behind these windows, it’s there for the books. Did those flowers come wrapped in cellophane from the supermarket? Were they delivered in a van? I feel a connection with these five people, and Chris, that changes as the time passes. I feel proud tonight. What are my resonances in this room? I launched a book here in this room. I had an exhibition in the ballroom downstairs and is something I feel was probably some of my best work, and this is where it was at its best, so how does that make me feel today? So I suppose what I’m talking about is the link between intuition, emotion, the unconscious risk and the present, and I was trying to demonstrate that to you, with you, because you’re here.

Richard respondingThat painting on the wall over there is by Kenneth Martin and when I was a student, Kenneth Martin was an iconic figure. Not much is really known about him today at all and I was in that field. I was a constructivist artist as a student. I had a constructivist tutor called Malcolm Hughes who was a bit like a father to me. And why do I think of my father most days, even though he died now over a year ago? I never used to think of him much when he was alive. So I was doing things like that and then I did a workshop with Derek Jarman and I really, really dramatically changed. Why did I start doing things that were so weird, so wild, so out of character for me? Why did that happen? Why did Malcolm Hughes support me in that? Why was he the only person that got me to really find out why I was doing it and to do the kind of process work then, like we’re doing now? Why do I feel this kind of connection of being a student now when I’m the age I am working here at ResCen? Because it’s a similar process and I feel strongly connected, although I was young. That’s okay – what happened to me then was very real and it’s still here now in me.

How was it that in a performance in 1980 at Battersea Arts Centre, I finished the performance with blood running down my back and no recollection of how that happened at all? Why is it that people come up to me and say “you know that thing you did in that workshop Richard 15 years ago, you know that thing that happened in that performance?” “I just don’t know, I’m sorry just don’t know what I did, I don’t remember, I’m really sorry.” – I’m not sorry really, I just don’t remember.

Will I make you laugh this evening? Will I want to? Will I not want to?

What happened when I was designing a sculpture in Maidenhead which is still there, The Kultur Wall? When I was building the maquette I picked up a piece of scrap paper that was used in a local stationary shop in Finsbury Park and I thought Christ, this’ll do. And that’s the piece of paper that is now replicated on that wall which is the size of this. Why did I know later that this was going to work? When did I have that image when all around me were offering clouds and other things? Because I kind of knew.

And why was it that with the performance/happening Jumbo Rumba, I looked at this tower, thought of a student who I’d asked to work on it, and I said “Coral, I want you to wear a Victorian dress and you’ll climb the stairs outside the water tower and you’ll throw a broom out and scream waaaaaaa!!!!? And you’ll just keep doing it, Coral. I really think it’s going to work.” Why was that the thing that everyone said, “what was that about?” And that was the thing that appeared in all papers.

That’s enough. Thank you.

 

 
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Chris Bannerman    
Just before I hand back to Guy Claxton for his response to the responses, I have to introduce a very new member of the ResCen team, Anna Craft who is the ResCen project supervisor appointed by NESTA, the National Endowment for Science in Technology and the Arts. Because this evening’s seminar is part of a two year NESTA funded project called Navigating the Unknown. Leaving that aside, we return now to Guy Claxton in response to the responses.

 

 
 
Responses from    
Guy Claxton    
I don’t want to take up a lot more time, I mean I was writing a lot of interesting things down here in response again, I don’t know what to pick on, random associations. This idea of the poet’s hand and the severed hand and the fact that when something comes to you, it comes of itself in its own life, it has its own time. There’s a lovely poem by Kafarfield – poems meet on the hillside. Different kinds of poems meet in different places. They have their own lives outside and beyond us.

And I was reminded, I love telling students this – there’s a wonderful article called On Having a Poem, not on writing a poem, not on producing a poem, not on choreographing a poem but on having a poem, like having a baby. The development of that image, like it comes in you, it grows in you, it germinates, it’s part of you but you don’t make it, you don’t craft it. You don’t manufacture it. And what delights me about that article is that it’s written by someone called B.F. Skinner, the art behaviorist. It’s a great little article. It’s lovely.

Another thing I was reminded of, the trust that Shobana was saying. It was a privilege to me to know for a few years before he died, a wise and grand old man called Robin Skinner who’s a psychotherapist. You may have come across him. He wrote a book with John Cleese called Families and How to Survive Them, a wonderful old bloke. I heard him talking about what he’d learnt over a career of over 50 years of being a psychotherapist. And he said “not much”, and then he said “one thing that I’ve learnt is not to panic when I don’t know.” And he was talking about how every family or every group that he goes into newly, he has the experience now which he had 40 or 50 years ago, ten minutes into that session of feeling completely lost, of having nothing worthwhile to contribute whatsoever, of not knowing what’s going on, of feeling professionally de-powered. And what’s changed over the 50 years is that in the face of that feeling, laterally he’d learnt to do nothing. To allow that germination which he’d say was “perhaps 30 or 40 minutes and then out of nowhere”. Something often, I mean he’d learnt a tremendous amount, but often something novel and surprisingly appropriate would germinate, or bubble up or rush out of him in a gesture. And the development of that willingness to hang out in the fog, to allow that germination process seems to be something important about the educability of intuition, which is part of our theme tonight.

I liked what Richard was saying and what he was demonstrating to us about, which seems to me to be very fundamental; what I haven’t touched on before which is that intuition, that putting yourself in that intuitive tornado or that state of ‘knowinglessness’ reverie or immersing yourself lovingly in that carnal knowledge of the intimacy of a dance or a scene is to slip out of the bars of your own personality. It’s not just a cognitive thing or emotional thing. It’s to do with a kind of blessed escape from your own identity.

And the last thing is to have that kind of link with those kinds of things that we’ve been talking about and the work that I know about in neuroscience, what’s going on in cognitive science and cognitive psychology at the moment is a kind of extraordinary premonition or development of intuition with evidence around it. But actually it’s not intuition which is the odd thing. It’s not the unknowingness, it’s not the fact that things are well out of us, uncontrolled or unknown or surprising. That’s actually the norm, that’s actually what’s happening all the time everywhere. Even when we think we’re in our control, that feeling of being in control wells up and bubbles up. But it’s actually consciousness and particularly rational consciousness which is the odd, which is in need of explication, which needs calling to account, which is suspect and tricky. That doesn’t mean our rational thoughts are any more or less valid than our intuitions as I say. I will defend to the death the right of intuition to be as misleading as rational thought, but with a small flip of understanding. It’s interesting that this is being supported by the scientific right now. With a small flip of understanding perception, I can take one step back from myself and watch with a kind of stunned amazement, this string of this seemingly coherent words to come welling up and bubbling up out of my mouth. It’s seems increasingly less strange to me. Thank you.

 

 
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Chris Bannerman    
I’m going to make an intuitive leap and impart a little bit of a plan we had and open it now to the floor to let the conversation flow as it will, so…other comments or questions from the floor?

 

 
 
A question for    
Errollyn Wallen    
from the floor    
Errollyn, you said something really interesting about taking intuition off an audience, that the artists are… I’d just like it if you could say something about that, about how much you, in creative moments, actually think of the audience’s and the audience response and how if you see something that works, do you think it work for the audience as well.

 

 
 
Errollyn Wallen    
I know that many artists don’t consider their audience. I do, just because I came to music through being in an audience and that’s a powerful thing for me. Every piece I write I’m considering both performers and…that’s the other thing, more and more I try and think of every aspect of the performance. It’s very, very complicated and it’s something we don’t talk about very much. But we totally depend on our performers to make our works work. Certainly in music, say in Beethoven symphonies that clearly do not work, but an orchestra will make it work. So we depend on such a great degree. But certainly in my work, I consider audience in terms…it’s all to do with terms of managing time. Say for instance a composer like Stravinsky who I think totally understood show business and the first two minutes you have to…

Why send people to sleep? Why? An affront to an audience. Why should we subject an audience to maybe a rambling train of thought that maybe is unnecessary. I think there’s a lot of music like that and why inflict anymore. So I consider very much the space. I like to see where my piece is going to be performed. I like to think of lot’s of things, where the audience is coming in and out, where the ticket booth is. I’m interested in people. I like people and music to me is a way, another way, of people coming together. So I like to think of those. But the truth is once I take hold of my notes, it’s crucial how I work out those notes, that’s absolutely important, but the first opening, those opening bars, and the end, you’re saying something to somebody. You are. It’s very simple I think.

 

 
 
Chris Bannerman    
Questions, comments?

 

 
 
A question    
from the floor    
I’m interested to know what you think if there’s a timescale on intuition. I know there’s a pressure on funded artists or there seems to be a pressure on funded artists to work a full working day you know ten to six, five days a week and whether you think that’s conducive to making or if you think that it comes in fits and starts and you make it when you want to. What do you think of that?

 

 
 
Response from    
Rosemary Lee    
I just envy writers so much when they say, “I write for two hours, then I walk the dog”. But I think it does come in fits and starts. And as a dancer renting space, it’s taken many years to get over the guilt of sitting there, eating a Kitkat or lying down and going to sleep and not getting up. And then I’ve told myself it’s an empty space and I need to have ideas. I wouldn’t do that with dancers, but if I was there to try to have ideas and they don’t come and I’ve paid for the space, it’s kind of hideous. So, no, I don’t think it works in a nine to five day but parts of the process do. But the bit where you get the ideas can be at any point, so it’s quite hard to sort of say it’s going to happen at a certain time, so I think there is a bit of a problem with that. But maybe that’s why one has to learn how to nurture the garden for the intuition to come so you can do that wherever you are or whatever time you’re sort of trying to do that. It doesn’t always work.

 

 
 
Errollyn Wallen    
And that’s the thing you do everyday isn’t it?

 

 
 
Response from    
Richard Layzell    
I think it’s a good thing to play with, time. Because from my experience, if I just sort of said, “I’ll just spend an hour doing this”, it’s a thinking kind of activity, just looking for a bit of insight. And it gets to 50 minutes and I stop. It often happens in those last ten minutes. So I don’t think it’s all bad. It’s kind of a personal choice. But I think if you make a contract with yourself, it’s going to be nine to one or between two and four, then it’s an interesting relationship with that block of time.

 

 
 
Comments from    
Errollyn Wallen    
I’d just like to say that there’s something important about the act of commitment. I was being flippant, but actually there’s something important about the act of commitment to a certain period of time to working every day. Because it actually builds your confidence, so that when you finish a bit of work, certainly in music, there are always mistakes in the scores, it’s impossible to get all the mistakes out. There’s always ways in music to make what you’ve done clear so in a sense you need your few hours everyday.

 

 
 
Comments from    
Ghislaine Boddington    
To add something quickly on that, I think there’s also, Errollyn said it earlier, there is something about a deadline or a showing or a work in progress or knowing there’s a couple of friends coming in to do feedback or to look at what you’re doing too; and I think those points are a bit tough and not very nice sometimes. But being put on your toes quite often is when people, and I know I’m really good on my toes, and most people when it’s at that point, when you’ve just got to be on the line – Shobana you were saying that, you’re on the line. I had to make a piece in 24 hours two weeks ago for a fashion show, and it was like “Oh my god”. But actually the group really went for it and it was on the line and it was great and probably worked out far better than if we’d spend a whole week on it. So I think it’s good to give yourself sharp points too.

 

 
 
A question for    
Ghislaine Boddington   
from the floor    
You talk about group practice and it’s whether you or anyone else in the group has experience of group intuition. Whether the group of people together are feeling that something’s right?

 

 
 
Ghislaine Boddington    
The role I’ve got in the group is to actually make sure the process is flowing through a group, keeping the process going all the time. And the way we talk about that group process is what we call ‘pooling’, collectively pooling. From a specialist point of view, you’re all putting stuff in the middle and getting this kind of fluid gooey thing which then goes around. Yes, I think it is very much about the thinking as a collective consciousness, or mind pooling. But it’s in terms of not just the mind. It’s the physical, the interdisciplinary, the ideas. Loosing the sense of authorship and allowing that to happen and that relief to let go. It’s not a pool of what I did, it’s a pool of ideas that we can draw on. Yes, I’d say that’s the optimal aim at the end of what you’re working on, whether it’s one day or four weeks, towards something which is possibly... the ultimate aim is where you know as a group – it’s funny because I haven’t thought about it like this before. But you know as a group that those are the things that should go forward, those are the things that should be pulled through, be placed into the final hole.

I haven’t had many arguments about that actually. There are very rare points when maybe two thirds of the group are saying “that’s awful” and the one third are going “that’s our favorite thing!” Interestingly, maybe it’s about flow of energies and links that happen. As you all know it’s really important that in a group work you’re feeling and talking and beyond the actual studio work. Often maybe those flows link in and interact with each other in the pub when you’re having a drink or at dinner and they don’t get so talked on the table, things come through into it. We do use visual images as a kind of mind pooling. We do quite a lot of exercises at the beginning of group projects in which I put everybody in the middle; listening exercises where all your heads are in together so you’re listening in the same way, encouraging that kind of thinking, but there’s probably a lot more to explore there.

 

 
 
Comment from    
Graeme Miller    
I think I use it myself as a real practical tool and it’s more than that because I’m really fascinated in how it manages to come about. Even at a practical level I think the refinement and setting up of structures for human beings to kind of step into similar intuitive space – so for a musician, you call it brew. It would be absolutely ideal that you create, define a rhythmic or textual space and say work in there, don’t go beyond those definitions and going in with a sense that inevitably things will come out. One of the key rules is to say that it’s absolutely inevitable that things will emerge from there, and low and behold things do. They also develop at a rate of knots and a body of material can emerge. It can take weeks to put it together. Then maybe it wouldn’t be quite as good. So that idea of a shared intuition is fundamental to somehow work. It also does relate absolutely to time and identity. That there’s a kind of series of eyes of needles that you could thread up. Your intention as the creator is exactly the same within the moment as the perception you want for the audience at the moment. That the pushing of it out by the performer will thread it up in the same line. And that really they experience the same thing and I think the idea of moments often helps. Also, the way things are pushed forward in terms of the greater structuring. So you can generate yards and yards of material, but ultimately that’s going to need editing and the collective process of that can be a bloody nightmare.

I’ve worked for eight years with a collective company and we’ve found bickering was really good for that! It worked. But within those moments you’re dealing with the fundaments of why that thing is going to communicate in the first place and who you communicate with is a version of yourself. You have an audience that’s filled with versions of me, bad disguises, but really they’re all me. And that’s the basis of any communication, is you don’t know what it’s like, you take it on faith, that communication will actually happens. I think intuition is a sort of accelerated through route. And it goes both ways – it goes back to the moment of authorship through to the delivery, very close in terms of space I think.

 

 
 
Responses to    
Graeme Miller    
from the floor    
I just wanted to respond to that Graeme because I was thinking about how often people anthropomorphise a work while they’re working on it. They say “what does it want? What is it demanding of me?” And it’s natural to feel like that, but it’s also an interesting move to actually not only anthropomorphise and make it into a monster almost, but it feels like maybe that process is maybe a way of doing what you say about it becoming a collective process and thinking of the work, in that way it is generating that place where you can be mediating that sense of different peoples intuitions around the same thing. Or projections of other peoples intuitions into the work.

 

 
 
Response from    
Graeme Miller    
I think it’s a sort of psycho-drama, also prone to blind alleys and mishaps, as such. But I do think it’s this act of faith may not fully test up, in the testing may fall apart. Maybe it’s something to do with how you negotiate self and other. Some test of self and other. We can use ourselves within a collective as in a way a slightly more empirical test. You can take a group and if it’s working between those members of the group and stays in the air then there’s a really good chance it’s going to do that for an audience. When you’re working on your own you often use your idea of your baby, your poem, this thing. And its’ needing of tending and use of metaphor and allegory and all these tricks turn it into a drama between you and it and how it will come out. We all speak a lot of metaphors. We can’t talk at the thing itself but we run with these extended metaphors about we’re gardening and we’re lighthouse keepers. We’re all sorts of identities in the making process. It’s interesting.

 

 
 
Chris Bannerman    
Shobana, do you want to say something? You’ve had this recent difficult experience of waiting for this thing to emerge.

 

 
 
Shobana Jeyasingh    
Are we still talking about group intuition?

 

 
 
Chris Bannerman    
Yes, as a relationship, because you were talking about the two dancers that are in front of you…

 

 
 
Shobana Jeyasingh    
It just made me think of relationships I’ve had with composers and film makers and most of the time I’m amazed at how people that have chosen to work with or do something together actually end up. They make a decision that would have been exactly the one I would have made in their field.

I worked with a filmmaker just recently and we had no idea of the end product when we started making it. We knew it was going to be shot in Bangalore and it was going to be in traffic. We hadn’t really discussed palette. The person who was doing the filming had never been to India, so there was nothing very much to discuss until we went. When he got the footage back, I knew without having talked to him, but I didn’t really want a naturalist, documentary feel, but that’s all I knew. Later when I went to visit him, he showed me the first structures and he just colored the whole image. He’d picked exactly that hue which I probably had in mind but couldn’t articulate.

Then conversely, I’ve had horrible experiences when despite long conversations and the same kind of preparation, you work with somebody and obviously their intuition and you are completely different. Then you’re given something which is awful. I remember throwing this cassette against a wall because I was so horrified that I just couldn’t make anything to this first sketch. So I don’t know actually what the mechanics are. One would just always make sure these things just never happened again, bad experiences.

 

 
 
A question for    
Shobana Jeyasingh    
from the floor    
Shobana, you talked about the relationship of ‘knowledges’ and intuition as the unknown and I’m wondering…the technique as well. To some degree a large part of intuition is technique and knowledge which is internalised, which is allowed to work at automatic speed, which in that sense we would have ourselves split in two. Two of ourselves which work at different speeds, produce the new stuff, or the new form of the old stuff. Would you say that at least part of intuition is internalised?

 

 
 
Comment from    
Richard Layzell    
I thought you said that really well!

 

 
 
Chris Bannerman    
Do you want to say anything to that?

 

 
 
Comments from    
Guy Claxton    
Not really, just to agree. I think of the idea of the internal, the detail and technique, it’s like compost. It’s a whole lot of stuff tossed onto that database, that mulch down inside you and then germinate on their own. Sometimes they germinate wriggly things that run around fast and sometimes they start to move slowly and ‘shiftingly’ and you don’t know, a constipated kind of feeling. Something is happening and you don’t know what it is. I write a lot and that feeling which again, I’ve learnt if not to trust, tolerate, something is like being constipated – I’ve never been pregnant, but I imagine something like that too. That something is coming and you don’t know what it is and you can’t put words. That’s enough!

 

 
 
Chris Bannerman    
Is there room in this paradigm of a monster of work?

 

 
 
A question from    
the Floor    
What are the education markings for the activities of self-esteem and personal development? What views do you have on say, through creating a dance you create yourself as a dancer, and writing you create yourself as a writer?

 

 
 
Chris Bannerman    
You’re not just creating a crossword. You’re solving it, creating an identity.

 

 
 
Comment from the floor    
And that identity carries a sense of worth as well.

 

 
 
Comments from    
Ghislaine Boddington    
I really agree with the statement that creativity does encourage self-esteem and confidence and it works the other way around too. We’ve had some input from quite a few great speakers across the past few months and I think one person talked very clearly about how some people believe that everyone has creativeness in them, other people believe one is born creative another isn’t. I think we’re much more on the first belief in this point in history. That actually the confidence to go into creative work whatever type it is, when it’s being analysed generally comes through as a child or a young adult, having something or someone who encourages you to do that, having the word creative around at home or at school or a teacher that particularly encourages you and helps your self-esteem and confidence helping you go towards that. I guess it’s a bit like a constant figure of eight looping, so as you’re encouraged, your self-esteem grows, your confidence grows and hopefully you’ll encourage others. Partly, a lot of people’s work here is about creativity. I don’t know where the beginning of the loop starts.

Another comment to add here, the three parts of what you know, what you learn and experience as you grow up, what you get put into you and then how you use that and the intuition. I think there’s also another area which is we won’t maybe know as a fact for maybe a long time yet, but actually what you know from the whole base of your nature form where your genetic knowing is. Like for example, people who suddenly find they’ve got good skills at something. And then find out years later that their great, great, great, great grandfather was an amazing singer. Those base line things which you just don’t sometimes know. Or feelings for things which are much more nature, rather that nurture and experience growing up that way.

 

 
 
Comments from    
Chris Bannerman    
I had a comment. I sometimes embarrass Research Associates by noting that they appear also after decades of arts practice to have reinvented themselves. So it’s as if after writing they become a writer but then they’re dissatisfied with having become the writer they’ve become and then it’s a kind of on going process through the practice, a ‘re-inventification’.

 

 
 
Comments from    
Guy Claxton
    
There’s also no creativity as a process of constant. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, but I’ve not bumped into a notion of constant regeneration and a sort of therapeutic level to it. I think people who make work, there may be a therapeutic level and I was trying to think how that works with intuition. I’m just giving an example, is when you make a hell-bent piece of work, when you almost, the decisions you make are taking you into a darker and darker corridor and it’s almost counter intuitive or maybe another kind of intuition. You’re doing that because you’re driven by forces within your own self. You’re absolutely addressing your own self and it can get into quite difficult areas of art that seem not communicative and about personal agendas. I think those sorts of needs and drives follow certain paths. The right direction says “Hell! Let’s go down here”. Often produced are amazing works and very strongly communicative pieces of work emerge out of that sense of self-transformation and needing to define yourself as, Chris says if you’re a self-invented person, which a lot of people are, then the ghost is going to come and find you all of that, or your relationship to what other people expect you to be. So the self and the games we play with who we want to be; quite childish needs about our own personalities are really there. I think it’s a key part of our personalities.

 

 
 
A question from    
the Floor    
We’ve been talking on the basis of the value of intuition, but what happens when we work with systems that devalue intuition, in schools?

 

 
 
Comments from    
Chris Bannerman    
I think most of the Research Associates have had engagement with educational systems.

 

 
 
Comments from    
Richard Layzell    
I think it’s very hard. The story I told of what made me do that when I went to art school is absolutely true. It was like I discovered education for the first time and it was a bloody shock to me. And it transformed every sense of what I thought I was and I didn’t know what I was going to become. But it was like “oh, I can do something” and I didn’t think I could actually. I had very low self-esteem. Somebody said “it’s okay”. It was actually before that, on my first year of art school. So I think we know what education is, what it can be. There are great teachers I think, people have mentioned that. It’s often down to the individual. It’s a hard world. We’re talking about very tender things here. It’s almost like a taboo, a taboo evening.

 

 
 
Comments from    
Rosemary Lee    
I feel quite privileged to go into schools and do a little injection that could start something or could give them a taste for once in their lives and usually subverts the discipline and causes all sorts of problems for the teacher. I’ve just been in today and done that unfortunately for him. And so they’re missing their play tomorrow. But there’s something else that comes out and yesterday the teacher was in tears, because she said for the first time ever she was seeing them as individuals and she said “and all I do is cram facts into them and try to treat them all the same and you’ve just brought them all out and I can see them again!” And what a fantastic privilege for me and poor woman for having to deal with the system! I hate it! So that’s why I just stay here and keep doing it and try to subvert it. You’ve just got to keep fighting the system and in any way you can, however small, because it is tender, but sometimes you’ve got to be a bit brutal. That’s how it feels anyway.

 

 
 
Comments from    
the floor    
I’m interested in knowledge and intuition. In my experience of creative work, when things present themselves, presumably intuitively, those kind of intuitive triggers always seem to be – it’s as if I’ve kind of uncovered something. It seems like more a process of uncovering than (we’ve already talked about that). Creativity isn’t making things up. It’s already there and the kind of implications – two points. There are things out there existing which can avail themselves to you through this process of intuition and I’m interested in the idea of whether the process or the vision is subjective because if it is, there is another paradox there. If it’s subjective then it would suggest that what has been uncovered by the individual is particular to them and not so universal. Conversely, it could be that the individual’s intuitive process is a part of a more collective thing where because as we all know, people who have worked creatively and their intuition creates things that we all respond to, then presumably we’re responding to the same thing that the originator responded to in the first place. To me this is the process of recognition in the true sense. But it’s like knowing something again, knowing something that’s already there, ‘re-cognition’, exactly.

I’m just interested to know what people think of that because there are kind of profound implications there that we can become these senses if you like to fight through barriers that are put there by ourselves and the education system and so on. What it enables us to do is acquire general knowledge and real knowing that is already there.

 

 
 
Comments from    
Guy Claxton    
You could go two ways with that. Clearly there are these kinds of fundamental themes or archetypal themes or what have you that we trade in, what we pick up, what we communicate. And that takes us into Jungian territory. It’s interesting for most of his life, Jung did not think in terms of the collective unconscious as being some kind of mysterious pool of general knowledge out there in the world. It was simply part of our psychological aspect of our evolutionary heritage. So it could in a sense be subjected without being, tapping into something real out there, but tapping into something universally real within each of us. So you don’t have to put a kind of supernatural gloss on that. Equally interestingly, toward the end of his life he moved towards “they do have lives of their own” and whether or not they do, some of the people have been saying tonight, what you get is real interesting places, if you treat them as if they were real existing independent forms that lived out there. You have a different relationship to those forms, those themes, those patterns. You can go in different directions with that problem.

 

 
 
Chris Bannerman    
Any last burning comments or questions? There will be a follow up to this of some kind. We will continue this discussion over a glass of wine in a less formal manner.

Thank you all very much!

 
 

 

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